Happiest university and college students revealedPlus high-climbing universities for student satisfaction

02 January 2013

Students are happier than ever with their university experience according to the 289,000 final-years asked to rate their degree course in 2012's National Student Survey - so which universities came out on top, and who's notably improved on the previous year?

With the 15 January UCAS deadline approaching for students applying to university, and an increasingly diverse range of education providers offering degrees, we've been taking a closer look into National Student Survey (NSS) scores by group to see who's upped their satisfaction scores alongside the top performers.

University student satisfaction

You can read more about each university in our student satisfaction round-up on Which? University, a new website from Which? to help students find and compare degree courses and universities.

  Top universities for student satisfaction 

Top universities: 1. Institute of Education, 2. University of Cambridge, 3. University of Oxford, 4. Open University, 5. Heriot-Watt University and Central School of Speech and Drama.

High climbers: Queen's University Belfast, Heriot-Watt University

College student satisfaction

You can also study for an undergraduate degree at a further education college validated by a university. Colleges often offer flexible study options, helpful if you're balancing other commitments.

 College student satisfaction 

Top colleges: 1. St Helens College, Merseyside, 2. Richmond-upon-Thames College, 3. Solihull College, 4. Middlesbrough College, 5. Wirral Metropolitan College.

High climbers: Richmond-upon-Thames College, Solihull College

Specialist college student satisfaction

By 'specialists' we're talking about smaller institutions offering degrees focused around one subject area - an art college or conservatoire, for instance - or the smaller university colleges. 

 Top specialist colleges for satisfaction 

Top specialist colleges: 1. St Mary's University College (Queen's University Belfast), 2. Brighton and Sussex Medical School, 3. Courtauld Institute of Art, 4. Ruskin College, 5. Conservatoire for Dance and Drama.

High climbers: Stranmillis University College, Royal Veterinary College, Arts University College at Bournemouth

National Student Survey unwrapped

The NSS asks students about a range of academic areas, from teaching and facilities to assessment and feedback. Overall, 78% of students said they were satisfied with their experience. 

While the NSS gives you an indication of 'satisfaction', it won't necessarily tell you the full picture. Bear in mind that there may be big variations at a course or subject level, plus students have usually only had experience of one university, so won't have a point of comparison when it comes to rating their experience.

More on this...

Colleges and universities included offer at least one full-time undergraduate first degree course. Satisfaction score is the mean rating given by all students giving an overall satisfaction rating.